Telstra chief executive officer Andy Penn
Telstra chief executive officer Andy Penn Mark Furler

Telstra vows to spend "hundreds of millions" for regions

TELSTRA says it will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into improving the mobile phone network across regional Australia to eliminate reception blackspots and improve internet speeds.

CEO Andy Penn briefed Australian media at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona after the telco announced plans to trial superfast 5G services at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

An enhanced network, offering internet speeds of up to one gigabyte per second, will be rolled out in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane CBD areas.

Mr Penn said Telstra was partnering with other major players to position itself as a world leader in telecommunications, mobile services, and sport and entertainment content deals.

Telstra has joined forces with Ericsson for a trial of 5G in Gold Coast during the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The Gold Coast test network will follow 5G tests being done by Telstra engineers over in Ericsson's research labs in Sweden.

According to a CNET report, the test has seen speeds of 11Gbps.

"That speed would allow you to download 1,000GB of data in 13 minutes. That's slightly over 31 copies of the full HD version of "Frozen", by the way."

Telstra last week announced the first rollout schedule of mobile base stations to be constructed under the Mobile Blackspot Program.

The first 66 mobile base stations to be constructed by the end of June this year include locations in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Telstra is contributing $165 million towards the construction of 429 3G / 4G mobile base stations in 400 communities.

Another $94.8 million is coming from the Federal Government and tens of millions from State and Local Governments.

It is part of a wider $5 billion investment by Telstra into its mobile network over the three years to June 2017.

It comes as telcos battle to deal with an explosion in demands on their networks thanks to greater use of video, including 4k quality and 360 degree virtual reality.

Mr Penn said the 'internet of things', which will see more devices - ranging from cars to family refrigerators - connected online.

He said despite the enormous challenges posed by distance and geography, Australia had some of the most advanced technology in the world.

Mr Penn downplayed suggestions 5G would be needed to cope with the soaring mobile data demands which had increased by 42% in the past year.

"There's a lot of runway in 4G,'' Mr Penn said.


Mark Furler is at Mobile World Congress as a guest of Samsung Australia

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